The Risks of Standing Desks

by Chris Martin on May 30, 2013

It seems like everyone these days is trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. In the past, this laudable goal has begotten many unusual fads, trends, and gimmicks from Shake Weights to body cleanses and feeding-tube diets.

One of the most recent “health-conscious” ideas involves what are known as standing desks. These are simply desks or workstations with surfaces that are raised a few feet off the ground, so that individuals must stand instead of sit in order to easily type on a computer, talk on the phone, and perform other administrative tasks. The goal is to combat the problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle where people sit at desks for eight or more hours per day. As the thinking goes, the less time someone spends sitting, the healthier and more active they will be.

But do standing desks really producer the health benefits that they claim to?

First and foremost, the studies about the risks of sedentary lifestyles only show correlation between sitting at work and poor health. That’s markedly different from causation, which implies that sedentary activity is actually the cause of health problems. But more importantly, standing desks come with hazards of their own.

Research has shown that standing for long periods of time causes a wide variety of health-related issues, including heightened risks for:

  • varicose veins
  • fatigue and tiredness
  • decreased fine motor skills
  • low back pain or soreness
  • foot pain or soreness
  • leg pain or soreness
  • chronic venous insufficiency
  • pre-term birth or spontaneous abortion in pregnant women

Perhaps the biggest website like this issue associated with constant standing is a much larger risk (between 800 and 1000 percent!) of carotid atherosclerosis. This is a condition where plaques begin forming in the carotid artery, which can eventually lead to loss of transient vision, transient ischemic attacks, embolisms, and strokes.

There is a solution to many of the dangers associated with standing desks: Purchasing anti-fatigue mats for each of this type of workstation.

Anti-fatigue mats provide substantially more cushion for the body than is present when standing on carpet, tile, or other flat surface. As their name implies, the result of the increased support is less fatigue, which translates into a lower prevalence of aches, soreness, and pain in all parts of the body. But more importantly, anti-fatigue mats actually work to improve blood circulation as well. While  a person stands on an anti-fatigue mat, the material in the mat forces his or her body to make numerous “microadjustments” or subtle, undetectable movements, in order to maintain balance. These microadjustments are sufficient to keep the arteries and veins open and the blood flowing throughout the body, whereas standing completely still on flat surfaces causes fatigue buildup that constricts these blood vessels and lowers circulation.

Ultimate Mats offers three different types of anti-fatigue mats for different work environments and conditions. These products are ideal for employees who work not only at standing desks, but also in kitchens, on assembly lines, behind retail counters, and any other work area which requires prolonged standing. If you want to protect the well-being of your employees (and see accompanying increases in productivity), anti-fatigue mats are a worthwhile investment in the health of your workers and the success of your business.

Image credits: My_OCD, Ultimate Mats

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